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Duke Outlasts Indiana, 54-51

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After the first half against Indiana, it looked as if Duke might cruise to
victory. They won, but they didn't quite cruise. As the ad says: not

It turned out to be a death match at the end, with Indiana crawling back in
behind gutty players like Errek Suhr, and also partly because Duke simply could
not capitalize on offense.

Fortunately, the team is playing excellent defense, and when the offense
failed to produce, and when, for instance, they coughed the ball up with less
than nine seconds and a three point lead. But they played tough defense
and left with a win.

Indiana tried to beat Duke off the dribble - after the game, Kelvin Sampson
said Duke was extremely good at disrupting the passing lanes, and that one way
to get past that was through dribble penetration - and it worked to an extent,
although not as well as it worked for Marquette. Duke got back quicker (and also
IU's guards were slower), and managed to strand people or disrupt or take away
the pass.

The offense, though, remains an issue. Coach K said things looked great
in practice, but things obviously didn't work as well during the game. And
one critical point was when Greg Paulus fouled out.

Paulus has taken a lot of criticism this year, much of it unwarranted.
He is several weeks behind and most of his errors are because he's trying to
take over and make a difference. His rehab continues, but in the public
eye, unlike most people.

Yet one key point in the game was when he fouled out. When Indiana was
rallying in the second half, Coach K turned to Paulus to steady the team.
He was doing a pretty good job until his fifth foul, and in his absence we
learned something pretty critical: this team really, really needs a
quarterback, and there's only one legitimate candidate for the job. Josh
McRoberts is a wonderful ballhandler for someone 6-10, but he's not a
guard. DeMarcus Nelson is a stunning athlete who can do almost anything,
but his skills at running a team are less than Paulus's. And the final
candidate, Jon Scheyer, is capable of filling in, but his skills run in other

Speaking of Scheyer, while he took an ill-advised three near the end of the
game, that was a typical freshman mistake. More importantly, he was
trying to step up and assert himself, which is a plus. But we saw some
other things in his game which we hadn't seen before.

He's got more instinct for basketball than a lot of guys with a lot more
talent. Watch him: he's always moving with the flow of the
ball. He might be a half-step behind where it is, but he's still new to
college basketball. He understands the game, and he knows where it's
heading. That's a gift that no amount of coaching can teach. As the
season goes on and he gets more used to the college game, he'll have his hands
in everything.

The bigger mysteries to us, right now, are the offensive games of Josh
McRoberts and Gerald Henderson. Henderson has had some injuries since late
summer, but he hasn't asserted himself as much as we thought he would by
now. It's very possible that he's still working through some things.
We saw some flashes in recent games, and the guy is unbelievably talented.

For McRoberts, he's a very effective perimeter player, and great on the
alleyoops. We'd like to see him be more assertive when he has the ball in
the lane, and to get a little greedy, too. He's such a gifted player, a
big man with guard skills, that if he were more powerful down low, he'd be an
amazing player.

And speaking of being more powerful down low, Brian Zoubek had a rocky
game. Part of that is simply a strength question: he got shoved
around a few times and couldn't hold his ground. When that comes, he's going to
be a load.

Lance Thomas wasn't particularly effective offensively, although he is
becoming a very good defender. And the more we see of Dave McClure, the
more we like him. He's a solid basketball player, as advertised, and more
athletic than we knew. He's making a good case for himself.

As for Indiana, can we just say that we feel honored to have seen them
play? Duke has played a lot of great teams over the years, and it's
perhaps easy to get jaded about big games. And right now, neither team is
really near its potential. But still, it was exciting to see Indiana, and
everything that the Hoosiers stand for, come into Cameron. We have the
greatest admiration for Indiana basketball, on every level, and it was a thrill
to see that tradition stand against ours.

We should also add that in 1991, when we were lucky enough to see Duke win
its first title, the folks in Indianapolis were unbelievably nice. We were
treated wonderfully by every single person we dealt with, bar none. To
paraphrase Rick Majerus, who was speaking of the Mormons, the people in Indiana
are some of the best damn people in the world. We're sorry both teams
couldn't win, but Indiana takes a boatload of respect out of this game, at least
from us. Good luck the rest of the way!